by James Goodrich member of the Sunnyland chapter
My ELCO 24′ electric launch is a reproduction of a late 1890s boat that, in turn, was based on larger Electric Launch Co. boats used to transport passengers on the flooded Midway of Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.
In 1987 Joe Fleming and Bill Swanson planned and designed this classic reproduction launch and introduced it at the 1988 Miami International Boat Show. (see the article on ELCO in the Winter 2019 issue of the ACBS Rudder). My boat is from 1989 and is #10.
The boat’s original owner was a Mr. Rosenberg from Sarasota, FL and was named “Off Key II”. I purchased the boat in 1999 through Gary Scherb at Old Time Boat Co. in Mt. Dora, FL, and renamed it “Tenderly” to reflect its quiet nature in an evening’s breeze.
The boat’s hull is hand laid fiberglass with a white gelcoat; the decks are mahogany with oak covering boards, rub rails and coaming; the interior has mahogany bench seating, ceilings and panels, and a spruce sole. Propulsion is from a 4 horsepower 36-volt electric motor fed by three or six 12-volt AGM batteries.
Over the 20 years I have owned the boat I have done or had done updating of the boat’s Roboteq motor control, Xantrex/ELCO electronic display, on-board battery chargers, and electrical wiring; replacing the cutlass bearing; re-finishing the bronze hardware; and re-varnishing all the boat’s wood.
The launch is stored on a covered boat lift on the Butler Chain of Lakes in Windermere, FL and is used for evening cruises with family and friends. Almost all who see the launch on the lakes think it is a beautiful wooden boat. And I have found this classic reproduction to be low maintenance, comfortable, elegant and, most importantly, quiet.